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Anne Marie's Story
Anne-Marie was first diagnosed with psoriasis 50 years ago. In her story she shares her experiences, from school life to trying different treatments, and dealing with the how the condition affected her psychologically.
I was first diagnosed with guttate psoriasis when I was 3 years old - 50 years ago. It isn't isolated to any one part of my body but can appear anywhere.
Back in the early days the treatment was very basic, betnovate scalp application and coal tar ointment. This treatment continued through my school days and I lived with taunts of 'flaky, scabby and spotty'. Nowadays this would be classed as bullying, back then it was something you got used to.
School life was difficult and as I hit my teenage years I would find any excuse not to do sport because I didn't want people to see my skin. The emotional support wasn't there then and following my O levels I had my worst break out and was admitted to Hull Royal Infirmary. This was to be the first of many visits as an in-patient. What I didn’t know was a newly qualified nurse with 2 small boys would be a part of my psoriasis journey to this day and she is now my specialist nurse.
Over the years the treatments have progressed and I've tried everything, steroid creams, UVA (which I still have), PUVA, ciclosporin and methotrexate all to no avail. The only time in 50 years that I have been clear was through both of my pregnancies.
In 2008 biological drugs were introduced to me and they have changed my life. All has not gone smoothly. I started with Etanercept but this stopped working after a while so I moved onto Humira. This also stopped working. Next step was Cosentyx but this made me feel generally unwell. I'm now on Otezla and although not 100% clear I'm not far off and feel the best I have for a long time.
The psychological effect of psoriasis is immense, not only for the sufferer but for families and friends. Until you live with psoriasis you can never understand how time consuming the management of it can be. Moisturising alone takes up a massive amount of time daily, let alone the application of creams.
We are surrounded by pictures in magazines and on the TV of the 'perfect body'. Learning to live with what the media perceives as imperfect puts immense pressure on psoriasis sufferers, but a social media group called 'get your skin out' has encouraged me to put my skin out there. After all nobody is perfect and beauty is skin deep.
Learning more recently that psoriasis is an auto-immune disease has made it easier to deal with. I know stress aggravates it and I know rest is important to help keep it stable. Above all else psoriasis is part of me. I have never accepted it. I have good days and bad days and I am finally learning to live with it. I couldn't do this without my family, my specialist nurse and the dermatology department of my local hospital.